There are many evils in our society and the dowry system is one of them. It has become a menace today. Almost every family has a girl child, so every family has to bear the brunt of dowry sooner or later. An Indian girl does not have the freedom to choose her life partner. Her marriage means a de facto business transaction. In the ‘marriage market’ boys are bought and sold. The better qualified the boy, the higher the price.
The history of dowry system dates back a long time. Historically, the son has had a share in the ancestral property. Likewise, the daughter should also get her due share. However, her parents at the time of her marriage, through dowry, try to ‘buy’ an ideal husband for her. They search for a good household for their daughter to live in; they wish to make her life comfortable through dowry. But dowry has taken an ugly turn today and money plays an important part in marriage.
One the worst aspects of the dowry system is that if a girl brings less dowry, she is harassed in her in-laws’ family. Sometimes, women are charred to death while others die by suicide. Three girls in Kanpur and three more in Delhi died for this very season. There is an average of dowry death a day in Delhi alone. Moreover, such deaths in rural areas are never reported.
Another worst part of this custom is that many otherwise honest people turn corrupt to earn money to marry off their daughters. They take bribes and practice unfair means in business transactions. Taxes are not paid on this extra income. This unaccounted for and stashed away money creates inflation in the country. It is often heard on the grapevine that 50% of the black money in the north is because of dowry.
The dowry system is a great evil in our society. A girl’s birth in the family is considered to be sad news because of the dowry system. The girl has to be married off. Every parent wishes for happy married life of his or her daughter. It is better off for the boys family; the higher is the dowry, the higher their financial status.
To settle the girl’s marriage is another problem. The girl’s father has to face all kinds of tantrums of the potential in-laws of his daughter. He is asked to spend more and more. No matter how much money he manages to save, the marriage market is higher. He may have to take loans or sell his land and house. Such are the sufferings of a girl’s parent. Very often, the girl has to suffer if the boy’s demands are not fulfilled.
The girl’s father wants to save his skin. But the boys father likes to rob him. Sometimes the girl is beaten. Sometimes she is murdered for dowry. We have to rob out this evil. We need to reform our society. Let our young boys and girls came forward and accept the challenge. If not we are suffering today, our children will suffer.
The custom of dowry has crossed the caste barrier and has spread in the whole society. Although there is a strict law against dowry, it is not implemented in the same way as the law against child marriage is not implemented. In 1987, goods worth crore of rupees were given as dowry by a minister of the ruling party to the bridegroom, the son of an ex-minister. Both belong to princely families. If laws are ignored by ministers they are bound to be ignored by the common people too.
The laws should strictly be enforced and should act as a deterrent against the practice of dowry. Any family or individual guilty of bride burning or battering, in my opinion, should be paid in the same coin at a public gathering. Strict enforcement of laws would deter the public against the practice of the dowry system. NGOs and women organisations should also work for the welfare of the victims of this practice.
Going in for inter-caste marriages would also help in discouraging the practice of dowry.
We as the citizens of India, marching towards the new millennium, should also strive for the discontinuation of this evil practice. Dowry is a black spot on the bright face of the country. It cannot be done away by just the older generations, the younger generation has to do it as well.